Assessing impacts of intensified biomass removal on deadwood in European forests

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Deadwood is a key indicator for assessing policy and management impacts on forest biodiversity. The authors of the study developed an approach to include deadwood in the large-scale European Forest Information Scenario (EFISCEN) model and analysed impacts of intensifying forest biomass removal on the amount and type of deadwood in forests of 24 European Union member states. In EFISCEN, deadwood consists of standing and downed deadwood, resulting from mortality, and stem residues from felling activities. To include deadwood in EFISCEN researchers developed mortality functions and re-estimated the model's increment functions. Further, they modelled the development of standing deadwood. Decomposition of downed deadwood and stem residues was modelled through the soil model YASSO. The authors used the extended model to analyse the impacts of a baseline scenario (no policy changes, a moderate increase in wood removals and no extraction of residues) and a bio-energy scenario (an increase of wood and residue removals to the maximum potential) on deadwood in 2030. 

The type of deadwood changed as well; residue removal led to a general decrease in the amount of smaller deadwood fractions (i.e. stem residues). Further, if felling levels are increased as in our bio-energy scenario, a decrease can be expected in the amount of standing deadwood and of large-diameter deadwood. The authors of the study conclude that without additional management measures to protect deadwood, intensification of biomass removal could negatively affect deadwood-dependent species, which constitute an important part of biodiversity in European forests.


Full reference: 

Verkerk, P. J., Lindner, M., Zanchi, G., & Zudin, S. 2011. Assessing impacts of intensified biomass removal on deadwood in European forestsEcological Indicators11(1), 27-35.